I lost millions of dollars – what I learned

When I was in college in the 1990s, the internet was first starting to catch-on. However, most websites were still using their IP addresses, not a domain name (so 205.251.242.54 instead of Amazon.com). I remember my friends and I typing in 4 random numbers in class to see what would come up.

Most simple domain names were either not taken, or had some random content (e.g. Tigers.com was a bunch of pictures of tigers, not the Detroit Tigers MLB team).

Seeing that gave me an idea: buy a whole heap of these simple-word domains. Eventually, individuals and companies will want them, and I’d be able to sell them for a profit.

Money

The problem was I was in college. And broke. And domain names cost $100 each. Eek.

I was eating Rice-A-Roni for dinner every day – how could I follow my ambitious plan to buy 100 domain names, and hold them until this internet thing really took off?

I knew banks wouldn’t give me a loan since I had no collateral, I felt my parents would have said “no,” and my friends were all broke too.

Thus, my only option was my grandfather, who had worked his fingers to the bone as a farmer his entire life, but for the last 10 years of his life, he made some great business moves, and so I knew he could potentially loan me the money.   

Could I really ask my grandfather for $10,000? What it if didn’t work out? My grandfather was one of my best friends. When I went to community college for two years to save money to go to Michigan, I stopped by his house every day to bring in his mail and talk for a while. I didn’t want to lose that.

If it didn’t work out, I would feel horrible around him for the rest of my life. My family would chastise me for taking advantage of him. I couldn’t have any of that. So, I did nothing.

Well, the rest is history. I know people who bought domains for $100 and sold them for hundreds of thousands of dollars. At one point, I worked for a company, who had a client that was trying to get investors to help them buy a domain for $6 million. SIX. MILLION. DOLLARS. And that domain was one of the names on my original list.

I still kick myself for not following-through on my idea.   

My point is this – never be afraid to:

1) Start with what you’ve got – I didn’t need $10k. $1k would have started me off just fine. So would have $500. Work up to your bigger vision.

2) Ask for help – My grandfather probably wouldn’t have given me $10k, but he probably would have given me $500. And if I never paid him back, he was such a great guy, he wouldn’t have cared.

3) Follow your dreams – if you have a great idea, CHASE IT. Don’t let fear stand in your way.

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